A corollary to the Heraclitus quote is that no two men ever step into the same river. Or so I tell myself to explain why I feel like I constantly disagree with people over the things we both read. Today, I’ll talk about the minority opinion on Lupin in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Relatively early in the novel, Lupin comes to Harry, Ron, and Hermione when they are at Grimmauld Place and offers to help them. He doesn’t know what they are doing and says he doesn’t need to know, but he can still help. After all, he has 20+ years of experience on them. He was privy to a lot of the goings on within the Order that the trio wasn’t, so he also probably has some intel.
Harry rejects Lupin’s offer because Lupin’s new wife is pregnant. He tells Lupin “I’m pretty sure my father would have wanted to know why you weren’t sticking with your own kid,” and “My father died trying to protect my mother and me, and you reckon he’d tell you to abandon your kid to go on an adventure with us?”
I think Harry has a fair point, and Lupin doesn’t do himself any favors when he goes on and on about how he made a mistake in marrying Tonks. Charming fellow, Lupin. Ultimately, Harry calls Lupin a coward and Lupin walks out.
Reading this, I couldn’t separate Lupin’s desire to help Harry, Ron, and Hermione from what had been said earlier in the series that some things are worth dying for. I read Lupin wanting to help the trio as the best way for him to protect his family, even if it places him in danger.
Fast foward to the end of the novel. Lupin and Tonks’s kid is born, and the new parents join in at the Battle of Hogwarts. When Lupin joins, Fleur asks him about his new son, he shows her a picture and says, oh yeah, the kid’s fine. That’s it. There is no mention of him cowardly shirking his fatherhood duties to have an adventure.
Later, Tonks appears. Harry asks where the kid is, and she says offhandedly that her mom will watch him before going off to join her husband. There is no mention of her cowardly shirking her motherhood duties to have an adventure.
Spoiler alert: they both die. When Harry sees them, he thinks how peaceful they look. He doesn’t spare a thought for their orphaned kid. And this really grates me. Why was it cowardly for Lupin to want to help Harry, Ron, and Hermione try to weaken Voldemort but not cowardly for him to want to fight in the battle? The same result–Lupin abandoning his kid–occurred. If that was Harry’s argument of why Lupin shouldn’t be fighting Voldemort, what difference did the timing make? Granted, Lupin made crappy arguments for wanting to help early in the book, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have good reasons too–namely making the world a better place for his kid.
I just can’t shake the feeling of a “prolife” message in the book. That somehow, the baby was worth more to Harry unborn and that once actually born, he cared less about its fate.
Most of the people I’ve talked to about this side with Harry in the beginning, even if they think he was harsh to Lupin, and don’t see the contradiction in Lupin being cowardly when he actually could make a difference and heroic when he was just acting as cannon fodder.